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Bosnian Serb mayor calls memorial service to non-Serb war dead a ‘gay parade’

Bosnian Serb mayor calls memorial service to non-Serb war dead a ‘gay parade’

The ethnic Serb mayor of the Bosnia and Herzegovina city of Prijedor has derided an event marking the 21st anniversary of the mass expulsion of ethnic Croats and Bosnian Muslims from the city – calling it ‘nothing but a gay parade.’

Prijedor was the site of the Prijedor massacre during the Bosnian war, with Serbian forces setting up several concentration camps near the city.

The massacre was the second largest massacre during the Bosnian war after the Srebrenica massacre.

Serbian forces forced Croats and Bosnian Muslims to wear white ribbons to distinguish them from Serbs during the occupation so Bosnians commemorate the anniversary with a White Ribbons Day where people wear white ribbons as arm bands to remember the expulsion.

Mayor Marko Pavic banned any official commemoration of the anniversary last year so this year a coalition of NGOs organized their own White Ribbons Day to commemorate the event.

A coalition of victims groups called on Pavic to apologize for his comments.

‘The mayor of Prijedor and local lawmakers should finally face up to the facts that confirm the suffering of more than 3,000 non-Serb civilian victims,’ the groups said in a statement.

‘Instead, Pavic and all those who support his rule in this town continue the wartime policies of the Serb Democratic Party using more subtle methods of intimidation and pressure against [Bosnian Muslims] in Prijedor.’

The mayor’s comments were also denounced by the Helsinki Committee on Human Rights in Serbia.

Earlier this year Bosnia and Herzegovina was told to lift its game on LGBT rights by the European Parliament ahead of joining the European Union but homophobic attitudes are widespread in the Balkan nation.